WORLD

Georgia’s parliament approves the “Russian law” and the European Union warns Tbilisi

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This article was published in English

Members of Parliament in Georgia voted on Monday in favor of adopting a controversial law regarding imposing government censorship on organizations that receive funding from foreign countries.

The law requires all companies, organizations and non-governmental media that receive more than 20% of their funding from abroad to register as “pursuing the interests of a foreign power.”

The Georgian opposition describes it as “Russian law” because it is likened to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s policies of suppressing the freedoms of independent media institutions and foreign organizations inside Russia.

The law was presented to Parliament and led to tens of thousands of demonstrators taking to the streets of the capital, Tbilisi.

These demonstrations were recently characterized by violence and clashes between police and opponents of the law, which led to the arrest of many demonstrators.

Charles Michel, President of the European Council, warned the Georgian government on Tuesday of the consequences of adopting the new law on the country’s hopes of joining the European Union.

Michel said during his participation in a democracy conference in Copenhagen: “If they want to join the European Union, they must respect the basic principles of the rule of law and democratic principles.”

The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, warned Georgia that it was facing a “crossroads” because of the law and urged it to “maintain the path of democracy.”

Georgia was granted “candidate” status to join the European Union last December.

Several members of the European Parliament asked EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell to impose sanctions against the Georgian government over the law.

The European Commission also condemned Tbilisi for using excessive force against opposition politicians and journalists.

According to John O’Brennan, professor of European politics at the Irish University of Maynooth, the Georgian parliament’s adoption of the new law sends contradictory messages to Brussels.

“It is now time for the European Union to say enough is enough with these double games,” O’Brennan told Euronews.

O’Brennan added: “You cannot be part of the accession process and at the same time introduce legislation that is completely inconsistent with Article 2 of the EU Treaty; “It completely contradicts the pledge made by the Georgian government to the European Commission.”

The law is scheduled to be referred to the President of Georgia, Salome Zurabishvili, for ratification or objection within 14 days.

Zurabishvili opposes the law presented by the “Dream” party that heads the government, and previously said that she would not agree to it.